Lancaster, N.Y. — Lancaster National Speedway will celebrate the 30th anniversary of its signature Stock Car event, the U.S. Open, this coming weekend (September 21-23). An event started by former promoter Alex Friesen in 1989 to give the facility a major end of season stock car event has grown into one of the must-see motorsports weekends in the Northeast.
Over 150 teams from across New York, Pennsylvania and Ontario are expected to descend on Lancaster National Speedway for the three-day event. Many of those teams will impact the local economy by staying in nearby hotels, getting supplies at local stores and dining in area restaurants during their visit. In addition to the traveling race teams, there is also the enormous amount of fans that camp in the speedway parking lot during the event.
A total of seven divisions will be in action during U.S. Open weekend, including Lancaster’s three X-Press Signs Stock Car Series home track divisions: the VP Racing Fuels Sportsman, Advance Auto Parts Street Stocks and Roaming Buffalo 4-Cylinders. The Race of Champions will host races for all five of its pavement series as part of the event, including the Race of Champions Modifieds, Late Models, Sportsman, Super Stocks and 4-Cylinder Dash Series. The RoC Sportsman and 4-Cylinder Dash fields will feature Lancaster’s weekly racers going head-to-head with the top invading series regulars. The NYPA TQ Midgets, which have been part of the U.S. Open for 25 years, are also on the schedule.
Western New York’s Racing Finale kicks off on Friday night, September 21, with practice and the U.S. Open Kickoff Party. Pit gates open and inspection begins at 4 p.m. with practice for all divisions starting at 6 p.m. The grandstand gates will open at 5:30, and fans will be allowed to enter for free to watch practice.
Immediately after practice the main concourse will come to life with the U.S. Open Kickoff Party. Popular WNY rock band, 1980 Something, will be playing live music starting at 9:30 p.m., just outside of the 12 Gates Brewing Beer Stand. All former racers and track employees are encouraged to attend as part of the 30th anniversary festivities.
The RoC Sportsman Series take center stage on U.S. Open Saturday with a 75-lap main event. Chuck Hossfeld we’ll be looking for his third-straight U.S. Open Sportsman win as he’ll battle top Sportsman and Modified stars from across the region. 2018 VP Racing Fuels Sportsman champion, Owen Bednasz, will lead the field of Lancaster regulars along with Shawn Nye, Tony Carbone, Jake Vernon and Mark Pennell. Modified standouts George Skora III, Andy Jankowiak, Scott Wylie and Patrick Emerling will likely be in the field as well.
The RoC Super Stock feature has received added importance this year with the event recently being christened the “John Julicher Classic” in honor of former Super Stock and Late Model champion, John Julicher, Sr. The race will pay $1,500 to the winner along with additional bonuses throughout the field. Current RoC Super Stock points leader, Tim Gullo, is the defending U.S. Open Super Stock winner. One of Gullo’s biggest challengers will be two-time U.S. Open winner Joe Mancuso. Gullo, Mancuso and Tommy Barron had a memorable battle for the win in the last RoC Super Stock race at Lancaster back in August with Gullo coming out on top for his sixth win at LNS over the last two seasons.
The NYPA TQ Midgets and RoC 4-Cylinder Dash Series will also be part of the Saturday’s action. Last year Dave Wollaber won his fifth U.S. Open TQ Midget feature, but it was his first in nine years. The RoC 4-Cylinder Dash winner will take home $333.33. Kevin Bainbridge is the two-time and defending winner of the event. Pit gates open at 1 p.m. on Saturday with practice starting at 2. Front gates will also open at 2 p.m. with qualifying beginning at 4:30.
U.S. Open weekend reaches its crescendo on Sunday afternoon with the 30th annual U.S. Open 125 for the Race of Champions Modified Series. The first U.S. Open Modified feature was won by Jan Leaty in 1989, and since then a who’s who of Modified racing has won the event, including Sege Fidanza, Charlie Rudolph, Tony Hirschman, Reggie Ruggiero, Rick Fuller and George Kent. More recently the names of current stars, such as, Chuck Hossfeld, Matt Hirschman, Eric Beers, Patrick Emerling and Andy Jankowiak have added their names to the U.S. Open trophy.
Defending U.S. Open winner, Jankowiak, enters the event chasing Hossfeld for the RoC Modified Series championship. They are separated in the standings by just 49 points with two races left in the season. Jankowiak and Hossfeld are also tied for most career U.S. Open feature wins with each driver winning seven races across multiple divisions.
The U.S. Open 125 is the fifth RoC Modified Series event of the season at Lancaster. Four different drivers have visited RoC Modified victory lane at LNS in 2018. Patrick Emerling kicked off the year with a win in the Queen City Clash. Hossfeld won the Ol’ Boy Cup 60 in June. Mike Leaty won the inaugural Midweek Modified Mania 50 in early August, and Jankowiak won the Tommy Druar/Tony Jankowiak Memorial 110 two weeks later.
Those drivers will also be competing for the Treichler-Troyer Trophy, which goes to the driver that earns the most points in all five Lancaster RoC races based on the track’s point system. Emerling leads Hossfeld by 14 points, with Jankowiak three points behind the “Hotshoe”. Leaty is fourth in the standings, 29 points out of the lead. Daryl Lewis, Jr. is just two points back of Leaty in fifth thanks to a trio of third place finishes at Lancaster.
Joining the Modifieds on Sunday will be the Race of Champions Late Model Series and the Advance Auto Parts Street Stocks. Dave Heitzhaus, who won a feature during the very first U.S. Open in 1989, is the two-time and defending U.S. Open Late Model champion. Heitzhaus will face off against RoC Late Model points leader Eldon King III and former U.S. Open winners Bobby Weber, Terry Weldy and Dave Russell.
The U.S. Open Street Stock feature will likely come down to a battle between two-time U.S. Open winner Rich Sharpe and 2018 Street Stock track champion Andy Cryan. Last season Sharpe won 10 features, including the U.S. Open while en route to the 2017 track title. He has four wins this season. This year has been dominated by Cryan, who has nine feature wins, and is looking to match Sharpe’s 10-win 2017 campaign. Some other drivers to watch include Brian Hoffman, who has wins at Lancaster, the Track at Hillside and Spencer Speedway this year. Hillside champion Ken Maltby, Tim and Nik Welshans, Dave Vona, Tommy Wentland, Mark Hoch and Max Northem could also be in the mix for the win.
Pit gates open on Sunday at 11 a.m. with practice beginning and front gates opening at 12 noon. The program starts at 2 p.m. with Modified time trials followed by heat races.
The full schedule of events and information on ticket pricing can be found on the U.S. Open event page on the Lancaster National Speedway website.
About Lancaster National Speedway & Dragway: Founded in 1959, Lancaster National Speedway and Dragway, WNY’s Premier Motorsports and Event Facility, is a multi-use facility located on 77 acres just outside of metropolitan Buffalo, N.Y. The facility features a 1/8-mile drag strip, a 1/2-mile oval track and hosts several non-motorsports events such as car shows and concerts. For the latest information on Lancaster National Speedway & Dragway check out our website www.lancasternationalspeedway.com. Additional information for racers and fans can be found on our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/LancasterSpeedway) and on Twitter (@LancasterSpdwy).
-Lancaster National Speedway Press Release
-Photo credit: Speed51.com / MoJo Photos